5 Questions to Ask Before You Let Your Kids Stay Home Alone
It can be outright scary to think of your kids home alone, making decisions for themselves without your care and direction. Answering these five questions will help you feel more at ease about letting them care for themselves while you step out.
- Are they at least 10 years old?
As all parents know, kids mature at their own pace, so there is no magic age when kids are ready to be left home alone. However, most are ready to be home alone for brief periods of time around 10-12 years of age. Even so, the age may vary from child to child, and if your child doesn’t feel ready, don’t push it. Those who are ready will be excited about staying home by themselves, not afraid. And on that note…
- Do they want to stay home alone?
Kids that are ready to stay home alone are comfortable with the idea of being home unsupervised, and they aren’t afraid of doing so. If your kids have been asking to be able to stay home alone, then have a conversation about the responsibilities that come with that, such as using good safety habits and following house rules. Are they willing to accept those responsibilities? Do they sound confident when they talk about being home alone?
- Are they independent?
Kids who get themselves ready in the morning and can make their own snacks or simple meals are capable of caring for themselves before school, after school, or in the evening for a few hours. As parents, you can bolster your kids’ independence by encouraging them to do things for themselves, such as getting ready on their own each morning or packing their own lunch for the day.
- Have they had any safety training?
It’s important to prepare your kids to stay home alone. Completing a life and safety course like Safe Sitter® Essentials will give them safety skills, first aid and rescue skills training, and even babysitting preparation so they can care for younger siblings. If your kids aren’t ready for that, then perhaps a home alone course like Safe@Home is more their speed. It will teach them how to handle household emergencies and who to call for help when things go wrong.
- Have you worked with them to prepare for when you’re not home?
You have a role in preparing your kids, too. Talk with them about how to reach you, who to call for help when you’re not available, and the house rules they’re expected to follow when you’re not there. As an added precaution, remind them not to post online that they’re home alone, even within their social network of friends. Finally, make sure your kids have access to emergency help by posting the following numbers near your home phone and/or programming them into your kids’ cell phones:
- 9-1-1 for emergencies
- your work and cell phone numbers
- the phone number of a back-up adult such as a relative or neighbor
- Poison Control 1-800-222-1222
- your home address
Although many kids dream of the day when their parents let them stay home alone, most parents dread it to some extent. Make sure you’re comfortable with your kids assuming the responsibility by first asking yourself five important questions.
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